In Practice: An example of managing conflict

Let’s revisit Bruce and Sarabjeet. Let’s imagine that his reluctance to schedule another debrief was frustrating to her and she complained to a colleague that Bruce was a bad supervisor. The colleague told Bruce. And now Bruce is angry with Sarabjeet. If Bruce follows the steps above, the conversation might go something like this:

Bruce: I understand that you think that I am a bad supervisor. This upsets me. Can you tell me what you think I’ve done wrong?

Sarabjeet: I think a good supervisor would want to meet to debrief about patients. I feel ignored.

Bruce: When you were late for our meeting, I felt like you didn’t care about it. I didn’t think you wanted to meet anymore.

Sarabjeet: I would like to meet. I was late because you usually get a coffee at 8:30, so I assumed that when you said 8:30, you really meant 8:40.

Finding a way to collaborate towards a solution that works for everyone is the ideal result but this can take skill on the part of everyone, including openness to hear the other’s perspective, a recognition of how emotion may be contributing to how you are perceiving the situation, and – again – reflection on your own beliefs and assumptions and their effect on your position in the conflict.